Odds and Ends
For today’s blog post I have gathered several small stories to share. Here are some cultural tidbits we have enjoyed during our stay in Tanzania:
African Massage: the free back rub courtesy of the bumpy roads, received while driving pretty much everywhere.
Instead of saying cheese, Tanzanians say “ndizi” – Swahili for banana.
I no longer pronounce my own name correctly. Every time I introduce myself, Tanzanians have a hard time understanding my name. They think its Mary, Marie, or something else similar. Now I pronounce my name like its two words, Ma Laurie. In Swahili it is spelt ma lori. This always gets a few laughs especially from children… it translates into many trucks.
Anytime we have gone to a restaurant and they don’t have something, the server will go to the next restaurant to get it. Sometimes its eggs for chips mayai, other times it’s because they don’t have any Fanta. One time our server ran across the street to get tables and chairs for us. I even experienced this at a shop where I was trying to buy minutes for our phone. They didn’t sell any at this specific store, but the lady working went and bought the vouchers from another store for us.
We have learned that because we are mzungu, restaurant workers expect us to tip. But many times the servers will work extra hard for it. They polish our glasses in front of us, bring out the fancy dishware, or give us larger portions. Obviously, we respond appropriately.
Growing up I was told not to play with my food, but in Tanzania you are supposed to. Ugali, a super thick porridge made from maize, really stores the heat. To cool it down you take a small piece and knead it with one hand before shaping it into a scoop and eating it with the rest of your food.
Almost every restaurant serves essentially the same menu but cooked slightly different. Your choices are beef, chicken, or fish, served with chips, rice, or ugali. A few places also serve beans. Our favourite lunch spot also brings out avocados, bananas, and cucumbers for the table.
In Canada we are served coffee with about an inch of room for cream and sugar. Tanzanian’s fill it right to the absolute top, on the verge of overflowing. They joke that we need to leave all that room so our long noses don’t get in the coffee.
Walking to the office in Karatu, the children are always excited to see us. They run to the street yelling, “Mzungu” and greet us. In Bunda, they scream with terror. Karatu has a lot more tourism and as a result children in Bunda aren’t used to seeing white people. With our pale skin, long hair, and large black eyes from sunglasses we look like monsters to them.